Monthly Archives: April 2011

The mix tape you need to make before seeing COLOR ME OBSESSED

For that ride to or from any screeing of Color Me Obsessed, this is the perfect Replacements mix tape (these songs, in this order):

Takin a ride
Customer
Kids don’t Follow
Fuck school
Go
Hootenanny
Color me impressed
Hayday
I Will Dare
Black Diamond
Gary’s Got A Boner
Unsatisfied
Another Girl, Another Planet
No More the Moon Shines on Lorena
Bastards of Young
Kiss Me on the Bus
Left of the Dial
Here Comes a Regular
Shooting Dirty Pool
Can’t Hardly Wait
Achin to Be
I’ll be You
Someone Take the Wheel
All Shook Down
Androgynous
Answering Machine

P.S. Please note, this is NOT a list of my favorite Mats songs. This is a list of songs that very specifically go with the film, in this order. When you see the film, you’ll understand.

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Filed under documentaries, independent film, rockumentary, the replacements

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 25

COLOR ME OBSESSED was a completely different beast from my last two film. A set of talking heads, over a hundred-twenty appear in the film, all with their own specific set of sound issues. An air conditioning unit we couldn’t shut off, LA street sounds, NYC street sounds, MPLS street sounds (I fucking hate street sounds), refrigerators, hums, buzzing, other bands playing loudly in the arena upstairs, dog tags jingling, interns turning log pages loudly, and one part-time uncredited B-camera person who moved so clunkily, Matt asked if someone was “bouncing golf balls off the window.”

We began, as always, at the first frame and worked forward. Tweaking, no so much those many voices, but those many distracting sounds behind them. Matt would, as he had for both You Are Alone and Friends (With Benefits) make everything sound perfect, all the levels even, etc and so forth.

The sound was halfway decent at best. And I’m not sharing the blame here. I take full responsibility for the sound in the film. And I even apologize in the end credits. But I didn’t want to shoot everyone in a sterile studio setting. That might work for Errol Morris, but it wouldn’t work for me. I wanted backgrounds organic (fuck, I hate that word) to the people being interviewed. If they owned a record shop, they’d be interviewed in their shop. To hell with the trucks zooming past outside on Lyndale. Or Grant Hart from Husker Du being interviewed in the basement dressing room at the 7th Street entry. I mean, could any setting be more perfect? Plus, we didn’t have a sound man. Our trusty mic stand stood in nicely. And many of the musicians we filmed seemed impressed by the quality of our shotgun mic.

And honestly, I might be overstating this a bit. When you see the film you’ll be thinking there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the sound.

And you’re right.
It sounds great!
NOW!
Thanks to Matt Gundy.

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Filed under documentaries, DuArt, minneapolis, mixing, the replacements

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 24

In 2009, different film, FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS), much better sound, but a new set of problems (music, music, more music, creating crowds sounds out of nothing, and leveling out the rapid fire dialog of six characters talking over each other in a bar). But still, the outcome was the same. Four days of mixing. Brilliant results.

I went home on that Monday after dropping off the drive. Took many deep breaths. Tried to relax. This was it. There were no more changes. No more interviews. No graphics, title cards. This was the final version of the film I would present to the world.

I felt sad, in a way. The people in the film become your friends, your playmates, during the editing process. And they are just like friends, they can make us laugh, cry. They can annoy the piss out of you. Or give you goosebumps when they hand you exactly what you need, often times when you didn’t even know you needed it. That’s a great friend.

But that was over. On Tuesday very early morning, I’d make another trek to NYC, this time staying through to the end of the week. Four days. And now we’d get all technical. The editing was over. The mix was about to begin.

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Filed under directing, DuArt, editing, friends with benefits, mixing, the replacements

The Archers of Loaf

A musical aside…

The Archers of Loaf have reunited and are going on tour this summer. If you’ve never had the chance to see this band, sell your soul if you have to to see them live. Honestly, if you’re broke and have to choose between seeing a screening of Color Me Obsessed or the Archers play live, go see the Archers. (You can always rent CMO later.)

I still get goosebumps when I think about the first time I saw them. The 2003 CMJ fest in NYC. They were playing Tramps on 21st Street. The lights went down, and sound exploded from the stage, the crowd massive and sweaty, bouncing in unison. It took all of about 15 second to realize I had found the band I’d been looking for for over two years, someone to take the place of, and match the energy of my blessed Replacements. It was noise pop bliss, and I’m pretty sure tear came to my eyes that night. I’d found rock salavation. I had been saved.

I’ve seen the Archers countless times. They’ve never let me down. (Even when they were sick as dogs at the Iron Horse.) They were hands down the best rock band of the 90s. Just as ICKY METAL was the best album of that decade, and WEB IN FRONT its best song. Nothing and no one ever came close.

I fucking love this band! (Honestly, they’re my second favorite band of all time.)

Check out their tour dates here.

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The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 23

So the film was locked on February 6th, 2011. Final running time: 123 minutes, 7 seconds, 6 frames.

I outputted the audio to OMFs, and created an uncompressed quicktime file of the film without sound. I copied these, along with any extra sound effects or music I felt we might need, onto a portable hard drive. And the next morning, Monday, Feb. 7th, I took a train to NYC, and hand-delivered them to Matt Gundy at DuArt Film and Video. He wanted everything a day before the mix to make sure the files worked properly.

DuArt is the famous old film lab where every New York filmmaker, from Woody Allen on down, has had their films developed. I’ve gone there since my making my first 16mm short as a part time film student at the New School for Social Research in 1982.

I also mixed the sound of my old horror comedy PSYCHOS IN LOVE there in 1986. So in 2005 when looking for a studio where we could mix YOU ARE ALONE, I once again turned to DuArt. One meeting with Carmen Borgia, who runs the sound dept. and sound mixer Matt Gundy, and I knew we found a home. Carmen understood we were indie and on a budget. And Matt took the time to watch the film and actually seemed to get what we going for.

The mix took four days (four days was all we could afford), yet somehow Matt cleaned up some truly awful background noise. I loved our main location on that film, the Hotel Duncan on Chapel Street in new Haven. But I didn’t love the constant barrage of sirens and hip-hop beats that seemed to find their way onto our soundtrack every time our mics were aimed towards the front of the building. Matt made them all disappear. Magically? Perhaps. It didn’t matter, Whether he knew it or not, he had formed a partnership for life.

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The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 22

I’m on a plane to Chicago, for the third festival screening of CMO, but I want to take everyone back a few months.

We had been holding bi-weekly screening of the film at my house. Usually just me, my wife Kristine, Sarah Hajtol (who has more credits on this film than I do, but in this case was certainly acting as my assistant editor), and production manager/researcher Katie Dickey in attendance. And of course my dogs, Phoebe and Springsteen. (Springsteen finally stopped asking why there was no music in the film, which I thought was a good sign.) Jan Radder, my supervising producer would also watch, but from a DVD at his home in Minneapolis. The last of these was on Monday, January 31, 2011. It would be the last chance to have a number of eyes on the film before locking it down, and doing the sound mix.

Notes were blessedly few and far between. A missing period at the end of one title, a B-camera close-up a little out of focus, a missing name in the end titles, a photo that needed to move from right to left, instead of visa-versa, things like that. I would then spend the next week tweaking. We received a handful of last minute graphics/images, which Sarah would insert into the film, while I double checked everything, and added only two things.

Two things no one knew about.

The first: the pause. (Infamous in my small circle of participants on this film.) Bil MacLeslie was the band’s soundman for a few tours. He was the person who confiscated the tape which would go on to become When The Shit Hits The Fans. His stories are eloquent and plentiful in the film. But one on my favorite things he says is nothing at all.

I asked everyone we interviewed what their favorite Mats song was. Most people listed off many, or gave an answer, then quickly changed their mind. Bill was different. He gave his one word answer, then paused. It was as if it were the thing in his life of which he was most sure.

When doing the first cut of the film, I left that pause in, in all its six second glory. I loved it. It was a breath, a break, it was certainty and passion, it was exactly what the film needed at that point. But everyone on my crew hated it. That it stopped the flow. That it was almost uncomfortable. So I chopped away at it, until it barely existed, mainly because I was tired of hearing about it after screening every cut.

Well, when Sarah was through with the graphics, and when I knew the next person who’d me seeing the film was my mixer, Matt Gundy, at DuArt, I popped that pause back in, as I knew I would, as I had planned to, all along. And watching it with festival audiences, counting off the second in my head, I know it belongs in the film. I love that damn pause.

The second: a dedication. It comes right at the end of the end credits, as Matthew Ryan speaks. It’s heartfelt, and deserved, as I would have never made this film without her. You can read it when you see the film. I mean every word.

P.S. These past few posts, and the next few that follow were all written on that plane ride. Needed a break from new script.

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Filed under alternative rock, documentaries, editing, filmmaking, indie, the replacements

My next music doc!

The other day I came up with what really should be my next music documentary. A companion piece, if you will, to Color Me Obsessed. Me and a crew of three other camera-people each assigned one member of the band Vampire Weekend. We stalk them. We harass them. He break into their homes. We are there when they eat, sleep, call their mommies. We make their lives miserable. And all we ever do is pose the question: “Why do you suck so much?” Over and over again. “WHY DO YOU SUCK SO MUCH?”

I would see it almost as my gift to the rock ‘n’ roll world as the confrontations would inevitably force the band members to get hopefully angry, turn to alcohol, or better yet, hard drugs, to finally take off the white V-neck sweaters grandma knitted, grow into angry punks, growing some actual balls in the process. It could only help their sound. They’d ditch the rinky-dink keyboards, opting instead for barely in-tune fenders, taking out their frustration on the unknowing strings. (I could almost hear the Fenders whispering to one another at night. “This was supposed to be an easy gig. Never a scratch. Fuck! We should have gone home with Taylor Swift instead.”)

It could be a transformation caught for everyone to see on camera, turning the wimpiest band in history into something raw and potentially brilliant. (Okay, brilliant might be pushing it for these guys, but at least something that wasn’t vomit inducing.) But just picture them breaking down, stealing old ladies purses, screaming at stranger in the street, urinating in public!

Or of course it could backfire. We could so distress their gentle egos that they’d instead shrivel up and wither away.

Either way, it would make for great film.

And their fans really would have nothing to worry about, as I’m sure there’d be many other set of silly silly hipsters waiting to take their place, with an iPod commercial song and a Honda commercial song already in the can.

P.S. Before all the VW fans get their panties in a bunch, let me point out that it isn’t just about this band. But they are the poster child for hipster lame, for hipster wimp. This could just as easily be about dozens (hundreds!) of other bands, many from Brooklyn. They’re all so easily interchangeable you’d think someone would be embarrassed. Though I’m not sure that’s anything they teach you at hipster school.

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Filed under documentaries, filmmaking, gorman bechard, punk rock, rants, rock n roll, thoughts, vampire weekend